Obama and NY Times Assault Religious Freedom

Monday, 04 Jun 2012 01:30 PM

By Bob Turner

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A New York Times editorial issued on Memorial Day entitled, "The Politics of Religion: An attack on access to contraception based on bogus claims of religious freedom," should alarm everyone who believes in the U.S. Constitution.

On Memorial Day — the very day that we pause to honor the heroes who gave their lives in the name of freedom — the Times issued a scathing indictment of the Catholic Church for protecting its right to religious freedom through the federal courts.

The lawsuits argue that it is unconstitutional for the Obama administration to mandate that the church provide to its employees services that violate the tenets of its faith such as contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients.

The Times attacks the 43 Roman Catholic dioceses for challenging the Obama administration's contraception mandate as a violation of the Church's First Amendment rights to freedom of religion. It dismisses the lawsuits as "bogus" and "a dramatic stunt, full of indignation but built on air" and noted that "the vast majority of Americans do not agree with the Roman Catholic Church's anti-contraception stance."

In essence, the Times is making the claim that the Obama administration is right to steam roll the church simply because the majority of Americans agree with President Obama's modern day stance on contraception.

Whatever your opinion of the Catholic Church's teachings, the issue is not about contraception. The issue is religious freedom — an inherent constitutional right — which is not subject to popular opinion.

We should never forget that freedom of religion is the very basic principle upon which our nation was founded.

Many of the settlers who fled Europe to this continent 200-plus years ago were not among "the vast majority" either. They fled Europe because they refused to compromise deeply held religious convictions that were not accepted in their native countries.

The Times blasted the church, claiming, "The First Amendment is not a license for religious entities to impose their dogma on society through the law."

This is a misleading statement, as the church is in no way trying to impose its dogma on society through the law.

Quite to the contrary, it is the Obama administration that is using the law to impose a one-size-fits all policy upon society. The Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]."

Religious freedom in the United States allows the churches, not the government, the authority to decide what is acceptable for its church members — membership in a church is of course, voluntary, a benefit of freedom.

It must be pointed out, too, that this law/mandate was not written by the U.S. Congress, but rather it was dictated from an unelected bureaucrat from the Health and Human Services Agency under President Obama's direction.

Needless to say, this is not the way our government was designed to operate.

Our Founding Fathers went to great lengths to call on the future generations to preserve and protect religious freedom. Thomas Jefferson once said, "No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority."

Our liberty today is under siege by an administration intent on forcing its own agenda on Americans at the price of individual liberty itself.

This Obamacare mandate is not only an affront to religious liberty, but also an insult to those who have sacrificed for this country over the generations in the name of freedom.

When the Catholic Church can be forced to comply with a government mandate that violates its practices or be penalized, the freedoms of all Americans are at stake.

People of all religious denominations should stand together on that principal in the face of President Obama's withering overreach into areas well beyond his constitutional authority. It would be a important expression of unified Americanism.

Republican Bob Turner is a U.S. representative for New York's Ninth Congressional District. He was elected in September 2011 to take the reins from Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner after Weiner resigned.

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